CeraVe Mega Review

So for those of you who haven’t heard CeraVe has been sold by it’s parent company Valeant to L’Oreal as part of a $1.3 billion dollar deal. Naturally, there’s concern that L’Oreal will alter the formulas of many beloved products, but I prefer to look at the silver lining that I will no longer be supporting a company that has shitty, immoral business practices.

On that note of optimism, I’m going to review all of the CeraVe products I’ve tried and keep my fingers crossed that if anything changes it, like the ownership, will be for the better.

rsz_cleanserFoaming Facial Cleanser

The first cleanser I tried from CeraVe wasn’t this one, it was the hydrating cleanser. To be honest I hated it, which is a normal reaction when something makes your skin burn like you’re being stung by a thousand bees.

I swore off the brand after that, which is why, when my mom gave me a bottle of this I plastered on my best Leo-losing-the-oscar-again fake smile and said thanks before throwing it into a deep, dark cabinet and forgetting about it.

But then I read the excellent post on Skin & Tonics about the importance of a proper pH and maintaining your moisture barrier and, 1.) realized my cleanser at the time was destroying my skin, and 2.) I’d have to find something new. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and all I could think about was I’d probably have to find some obscure, expensive as hell cleanser to live the low pH life, and cater to my super finicky skin.

Fortunately it never came to that because CeraVe has a pH of 5.5, and I didn’t even have to leave my house to get some, only dig the bottle my mom gave me out of the cabinet I stashed it in. Thank God.

I promptly tossed my old cleanser, started using this exclusively as my second cleanse, and within 2 or 3 days my acne dramatically cleared, and the sensitivity I thought was inherent to my skin wasn’t far behind it. My skin was – and still is – dry, but not nearly like it was when I was washing my face with liquid castile soap.

ahahahaha. Live and learn, right?

Anyway, I used this cleanser twice a day through spring, summer, and into fall, but once the weather cooled and the artificial heat kicked on I had to switch to something more hydrating. But it’s still sitting on my bathroom counter, primed and ready for when I can use it again.

Healing Ointment rsz_ointment

I am, in short, a klutz. I come from a long line of klutz’s, in fact. I fall over shadows and turn up with mystery bruises because I run into things and it’s so normal I don’t take note of it.

So it was a totally unremarkable moment when I burned myself in the kitchen. Again. Granted it wasn’t like giving myself 2nd degree burns with boiling water, but this time it was on my face.

Man, I tried everything on that burn. Literally every moisturizer and (non-active) serum I had on hand. It either did nothing or just made it hurt worse. Even the might Cosrx snail goo didn’t help. Finally, I dug this tiny sample pot of CeraVe Healing Ointment out and slathered it on, and oh what sweet relief it was. My skin was instantly soothed, and within a few days my skin had blistered, dried, peeled, and all that was left was a quickly fading pink mark. Now, a few months later, my skin looks perfect.

This honestly might be my favourite CeraVe product, and I don’t think it gets nearly enough love. Yes, the first few ingredients are mineral oil and paraffin, but they serve a purpose, and the ingredients after that? Hyaluronic acid, ceramide 1, ceramide, 3, ceramide 6-II, vitamin E, phytosphingosine, panthenol, L-proline.

Unlike Vaseline, which is an occlusive that sits on top of the skin and seals in moisture, CeraVe’s healing ointment actually adds moisture. And it does it while being free of anything that might irritate your skin.

And while this product really shines at times of distress (like when you trash your moisture barrier by overzealous use of actives… not that I’d know about that), it’s an everyday workhorse too. I use it regularly as a nighttime eye cream, or my nighttime occlusive layer. Chapped lips, rough cuticles, chapped hands and feet are all soothed and softened by the ointment.

rsz_lotion Moisturizing Lotion

Not too long into my skincare journey I realized that “cyclops” type silicones wrecked havoc on my skin. Of the cystic acne variety. Yikes.

Thankfully CeraVe moisturizers are free of it, so naturally I just walked down the aisle at my local CVS and tossed them all in my basket.

Like the foaming cleanser, the moisturizing lotion carried me through spring, summer, and into fall before I had to find something a little heavier to wear during winter. But I absolutely love this moisturizer. It makes the cheapskate in me happy by being economical (about $15) and multipurpose (face + body!), and it caters to the skincare junkie in me with it’s excellent ingredients (glycerin, ceramides, hyaluronic acid ftw). It layers beautifully over serums and never causes my sunscreen or BB cream to ball, pill, or slide off.

Renewing SA Lotion rsz_salotion

When I first started on Curology my skin purged a little. Not badly, and not for long, but enough to be annoying. I decided I needed a light BHA product, and preferably one that wouldn’t dry my skin out.

CeraVe’s Renewing SA Lotion more or less fits that bill. It does have salicylic acid, but the pH is too high (4.5), so you’re not getting a lot of it. It’s very lightly exfoliating, and not at all irritating, in my experience.

What I really love about this lotion is it’s richness. It’s definitely heavier than the basic moisturizing lotion, but it’s not heavy or greasy. It just feels really richly emollient.

And honestly, more often than not, I use this as my night cream; just layer it right over my Curology, put a little Healing Ointment around my eyes and on my lips, and fall into bed. Done and done. When I wake up my skin is moisturized, smoothed, and perfectly happy.

rsz_cleansingbar Hydrating Cleanser Bar

I don’t remember why I bought this. I might have gotten it as a freebee or something, but I honestly don’t remember. I do remember trying it on my face once and legitimately hating it though.

I didn’t like it much better on my body, to be honest. What I did find it was great for was shaving my legs. Until I switched to Dollar Shave Club/Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter pretty much every shaving cream made my legs feel like they were on fire, until I started using this soap instead. This gave me a nice close shave without irritating my skin at all. After a lifetime spent wanting to claw my skin off after I shaved my legs it was a nice change.

PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion rsz_pmmoisturizer

Oh, CeraVe PM I wanted to love you. And you and I had our little fling for a few weeks, but in the end it wasn’t meant to be.


Enough of that. So, I used this for about a month and my skin loved it. Loved it! The niacinamide was doing it’s thing, and the ceramides were doing their thing, and things were just clicking right along. Everything was great until it started clogging my pores out of nowhere. I hoped it was something else in my routine, but alas, it was. So it more or less became the skincare equivalent of a guy you have great chemistry with only to find out on the third date that he voted for Trump.

rsz_cream Moisturizing Cream

When the weather turned colder and I needed something heavier than the Moisturizing Lotion my natural inclination was to reach for CeraVe’s cream. Unfortunately this, like the PM moisturizer, clogged me. Unlike the PM lotion it did so immediately.

I thought it was no big deal and I could just use it up on my body, but this was both not moisturizing enough and really slimy as soon as I perspired even the tiniest amount. Just a brisk walk up the street was enough to make me feel like I’d slathered myself in Crisco. Yay.

It’s currently sitting in my bathroom, abandoned and unused because I don’t hate it enough to just chuck it, and I hate it too much to try and pawn it off on someone else.

Eye Repair Cream rsz_eyecream

I know this gets rave reviews from a lot of people – it’s part of the reason I bought it -, but it was just a failure for me.

Despite it’s rich texture I found this dried out my eye area. Or maybe it just didn’t counter the tretinoin induced dryness in my skin so it seemed like that. Looking at the ingredients list it amazes me that it wasn’t even the slightest bit hydrating for me. Anyway, I immediately switched to the heavy-hitter: CeraVe Healing Ointment. This ended up in the trashcan, I think.

rsz_sunscreen Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 30

Look, I’m fair skinned. The last I checked (which was several years ago) I’m a MAC N3, and I’m a hell of a lot lighter now than I was then. But this zinc is anything but “invisible”. You’d have to have the skintone of Casper to pull this off.

And it doesn’t do any favors to dry skin either, but that’s easy to counter with a good moisturizer under it. But still, the white cast! It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but lord is it bad.

But to add something sweet since this mega review is getting a little salty: I did a ton of yard work this summer while wearing it and it didn’t slide off my face or break me out. That was nice. But really it was just to use it up. I much prefer Asian sunscreens now.

Skin Renewing Gel Oil rsz_oilgel

I was so, so, so excited to try this. I stalked all my local drugstore, thirsting for it. Finally I found it at CVS and between Extra Buck’s and coupons I only had to pay about $5 for it. I was thrilled!

I loved the silky, siliconey feel of this gel oil (fyi, it’s silicone free). Just using a little it layered well and seemed to really lock in moisture. Unfortunately within a few days I developed a few deep, painful zits. I tried using it up on my neck, but even that would break me out. I think the culprit was the ethylhexyl palmitate, but I’m not sure.

I was so disappointed, but truthfully I’ve found other oils that I like more since then.


So that’s that. Despite some pretty spectacular misses I really do love these products. And I especially love that they’re so accessible to so many people. I really hope that doesn’t change.


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